Too many accidents are caused by human error! Even though many of these accidents are not attributed to intentional conduct such as transgressions of the Rules of the Road, many could have been prevented if the road user was more alert at the time of the incident!
One of the contributing factors to road accidents is driver tiredness. We often refer to this not only as driver tiredness, but also driver fatigue or driver drowsiness.
But how big is the problem of daytime sleepiness?
A new study has found that almost one in five adults in the United States suffers moderate to excessive daytime sleepiness.
“The prevalence of excessive daytime sleepiness is very high in the American population, much higher than what we observed in the European population,” Dr. Maurice Ohayon, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and lead investigator of the new study, said in a news release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Insufficient sleep is plaguing the American population and is one of the leading factors for excessive daytime sleepiness.”
This follows an earlier 2002 study that estimated that about 15 percent of adults in five European countries suffer from daytime sleepiness.
About 18 percent of the U.S. survey participants said they had fallen asleep or become drowsy in situations like meetings and conversations when they should have been concentrating.
The authors of this study have pointed out that the potential for injuries and accidents is very disturbing!
“The number of individuals sleepy or drowsy during situations where they should be alert is disturbing,” Ohayon said. “Sleepiness is underestimated in its daily life consequences for the general population, for the shift workers and for the people reducing their amount of sleep for any kind of good reasons. It is always a mistake to curtail your sleep.”
How was this study performed?
- The survey asked questions of 8,937 people in Texas, New York and California.
- Severe sleepiness was reported by 11 percent of participants, more of them women (13 percent) than men (8.6 percent).
The findings, published in the June issue of Neurology, were released at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in San Antonio.
Conclusion and Advice
Even though our car insurance policies might protect us from financial harm, it will not protect us from car accidents. We as road users are responsible for our safety on the road – and we need to consider all those aspects that could increase our alertness on the road!
We would like to urge all road users to avoid driving while tired, and to consider driver fitness as the Number 1 priority on our roads!!